Hamas rockets slammed into the Kerem Shalom Crossing early Sunday morning, forcing Israel to shut down its massive shipments of humanitarian aid supplies to Gaza residents. Though Hamas functions as the Palestinian government in Gaza, its own military strategy appears to involve denying vital aid to ordinary Palestinians living there.
Sunday’s shelling marked at least the third time during the conflict, which Israel refers to as “Operation Protective Edge,” that Hamas rocket attacks forced Israeli humanitarian aid workers to take cover and cancel shipments of much-needed supplies, including food, medicine, water, and fuel.
One of the lesser-reported stories of the Israel-Hamas conflict has been the continuous shipment of humanitarian aid to Gaza throughout the conflict. But by Sunday afternoon, Hamas rocket attacks caused the latest shipment to be canceled.
The Hamas rocket barrage began at 6 am on Sunday, but despite coming under rocket fire, the Israeli humanitarian aid workers drove 30 trucks filled with aid supplies into Gaza. But when the rocket attacks continued at 12:30 pm, nearly igniting would have been huge explosions by landing near tankers filled with fuel, the Israel Defense Ministry made the call to stop further shipments.
“After continuous and intentional rocket fire at the Kerem Shalom Crossing this morning and this afternoon, during which trucks carrying flammable materials to the Gaza Strip were almost hit, we took the exceptional decision to close the crossing in order to protect the lives of workers and traders,” the ministry said in a statement. “The crossing was open throughout Operation Protective Edge despite constant firing in its vicinity and is the sole artery for the passage of vital humanitarian goods and equipment to the residents of the Gaza Strip.”
The Kerem Shalom Crossing is located at the southeast corner of the Gaza Strip.
The last major shipment of aid from Israel to Gaza came last Wednesday, when Israel sent 236 trucks carting more than 4,000 tons of supplies across the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza, according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The supplies included over 2,500 tons of food, 110 tons of equipment that will be used to repair Gaza’s damaged infrastructure, and 27 tons of medicine and medical supplies.
Thanks to a now-expired humanitarian ceasefire last week, Wednesday was the largest single day of Israeli aid shipments into Gaza since the war began.
The Kerem Shalom Crossing was closed twice before, on July 19 and August 1, due to Hamas rocket attacks, both times cutting short shipments of humanitarian aid. Video of a Hamas rocket strike at Kerem Shalom can be viewed below.